On Wednesday 7 June 2017, Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa, a member of PEN Honduras, was found guilty of the crime of ‘usurpation’ at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, UNAH) together with two other students, for exercising their right to freedom of expression and protest.
Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa along with two colleagues had created the Human Rights Defence Committee at the UNAH in July 2015, to document human rights violations in the context of the protests at the university, which were taking place on a regular basis inside the educational institution.
This ruling, which dismissed the evidence submitted by the defence representing Padilla and his two fellow students, was handed down at the Sentencing Court [Tribunal de Sentencias] in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, after the PEN member had fought a long legal process including detention and arrest warrants. The crime is punishable with between three and five years’ imprisonment. The judge will hand down the final sentence on 27 July 2017.
PEN International believes that Padilla and the other university students are being persecuted for exercising their right to free expression, association and assembly, which form part of the country’s constitution (Articles 72-75 and 79), as well as the American Convention on Human Rights (Articles 13 and 15), the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders approved by the UN in 1999 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 19 and 21), to which Honduras is state party. PEN calls on the Honduran authorities not to criminalise social protests and to annul the ruling issued against Padilla and his colleagues.
For further background information, please visit the PEN International website.
Spread the word
Please share details of Cesario Padilla’s case with friends and colleagues and on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
- #Honduras: Stop the trial of @penhonduras member Cesario Padilla, found guilty after student protest
PEN members are also urged to publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press, highlighting the case of Cesario Padilla and the students at the UNAH in Honduras. (Please send copies of any press coverage to [email protected]
Write to the authorities:
Take a few moments to write to the Honduran authorities
- Calling on them to overturn the conviction of PEN Honduras member, Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa, whom PEN believes is being prosecuted for defending human rights and exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly by peacefully participating in and observing student protests;
- Urging them not to criminalise social protest or use the justice system to generate fear, censorship or silence among journalists, writers and others in Honduras;
- Demanding that they protect Padilla, and thus put an end to any unlawful surveillance to which he has been subject.
National Human Rights Ombudsman
We also encourage you to send a copy of your appeal to your nearest Honduran Embassy.
You can send messages of solidarity to Cesario Padilla through Emma Wadsworth-Jones [email protected]